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represents the United States at Rio Janeiro with the same rank. After the independence of Brazil we had reason to expect a great developement of our commerce in that quarter. The country is extensive, fertile, with the advantage of a fine climate, produces many valuable staples, and is capable of supporting a large population. But either from the disturbed condition of the government, a deplorable ignorance of the commonest commercial principles or a covetous, arbitrary disposition in the rulers, American trade has not enjoyed, even, the security, or bad the advantage of the same regular channels, it possessed under the colonial system. In fact, the scene of the greatest sufferings and the grossest violations of neutral rights has been on the east coast of the southern continent since the war took place between Brazil and the united provinces of the river La Plata. A blockade of all the ports of those provinces by a Brazilian squadron was notified to Mr. Raguet in December 1825 by the Viscount St. Amaro, minister of foreign affairs, an event extremely important to this country on account of our great trade to that portion of South America. The subject, not yet fully adjusted, has, from the winter of 1825, 26, been matter of extreme uneasiness as well as irritation, and has been productive of some angry correspondence.
The peace of Ghent is, properly, the first period in the diplomatic history of this country. It is probable, the foreign relations will, hereafter, assume a different aspect, not only on account of the revolution in South America, but be. cause we cannot expect, again, to witness such another revolution, as was consummated in Europe, by the general pacification of 1814, 15.
After the peace of Paris of the year '83, the political intercourse of the U. States with Europe seemed, for a while, suspended. The war, which led to that event, suddenly brought the country into an active, though not general connexion with the old world ; but when a separation was solemnly assented to by Great Britain, the Americans, having accomplished the object, that impelled them to venture upon the hazardous enterprise of extending their relations across the Atlantic, and having rendered to France all the good offices, that could arise from the appearance of a new people, introduced under her auspices into the family of civilized nations, retired back to their own shores, where, in appearance, forgotten by Europe, they were solely occupied with domestic difficulties of a serious and alarming description. But the proclamation of neutrality of 1793 renewed a political intercourse with fresh animation and redoubled dangers. To this period may, perhaps, with most propriety be assigned the earliest, certainly the thorough incorporation of the political concerns of this nation with the great European movements and systems. The people, with as little capital as credit, immediately entered upon a course of commerce, that fortunately required little of either, but which laid the broad and deep foundations of stores of wealth, that, at this moment, enable the country both to struggle in a successful commercial competition with all Europe, and also, to commence a system of manufactures, in themselves a source and mine of trade and riches. The political relations of the United States with Europe became, therefore, at once minute and extensive, because the commerce of the country was so. On that account our diplomacy may be termed, altogether, of a commercial character ; at least, its legitimate origin being in commerce, our treaties, for the most part, have consisted of arrangements for the regulation of trade and navigation.
In this particular course of negotiation the United States have in modern times taken the lead, though they cannot lay claim to the honour of having been the authors of the system, which, indeed, may be traced back to the Congress of Utrecht, an æra, remarkable, in the commercial history of the world, for the excellence and liberality of maritime principles and regulations there consecrated by treaty stipulations. But, even, is the United States were not the first to convert diplomacy to purposes of commerce, or, (a more re. cent invention) to propose the principle of reciprocity as the basis of commercial conventions, they are certainly entitled to the applause of having first resisted the despotic, engrossing features of the English navigation laws. The ignorance, or rather indifference of Europe to this system the last century, is incredible. The principal states of the continent, patiently, perhaps, even without a murmur, beheld their trade, shipping and sea ports perishing, withering and decaying under it; and yet they were never more jealous of their
power and dignity, or more ready to waste blood and treasure on insignificant pretences. The war of the revolution was itself, in principle, a commercial one; and become independent and under the federal government, the United States declared their determination of trading only on equal terms; they assailed and finally with success, the navigation laws of the mother country by countervailing duties; and as they were the earliest as well as deadliest foes of that system, they have reaped the first and greatest benefits from its partial downfall.
We may, also, remark in this place that the doctrine of commercial reciprocity is the most effectual barrier against the European principle of legitimacy.
Heretofore, nearly all the commerce of the United States, together with every other sort of communication, whether relating to the arts, sciences, literature or diplomacy, has been held with Europe ; for, when this country became independent, every other portion of the American continent was in a condition of severe colonial subjection and oppression. America, following only that course of trade, indicated in the stipulations of treaties, favourable in general, though not on the most liberal principles, speedily attracted the attention of the world, as a great neutral and commercial state ; and asserted claims exceedingly vexatious and embarrassing to the belligerents,—though actually possessing, herself, neither the means nor the power to support and enforce her system of foreign policy. This peculiar and remarkable anomaly in her situation and condition, imparted a novel character to the wars in Europe, in themselves of an extraordinary description. Those wars have now ended; and (separate from some difficulties respecting the Turks and the Spanish islands in the West Indies) there is, unquestionably, the prospect of a long peace. But not one of the neutral doctrines, for which America has always contended, and from the violation of which she has suffered so much, has yet been secured by treaty stipulation. The only undoubted foundation, laid for peace, consists in the excellent domestic arrangements, nations appear to be making, for their own prosperity, welfare and safety. Congresses have settled many other matters, that were thought necessary for the repose of the world; but regulations for the determination and preservation of neutral rights, perhaps one of the most effectual methods of preventing wars, have not yet met with that serious and solemn attention, to which they are justly entitled.
But if the negotiation at Ghent resulted in little else than a treaty of peace, and if our diplomatic arrangements since that period have not embraced a satisfactory adjustment of those maritime questions, that terminated in hostilities, still, we think, there are some points of our foreign policy, preceding that state of things, which will not now meet with a decided approbation. The doctrine of negotiation in the first instance, and in the second, of forbearance and self-denials, was relied on with a confidence, both originally mistaken and ultimately pursued to a pernicious extent. This course of proceeding may well be accounted for from an uncertainty and mistrust, generally entertained, of the resources and strength of the nation. Recourse was naturally had to those expedients, that involved losses without dangers, and as the only war, in which we had been engaged, was of a most peculiar character, it could not be considered a precedent or a rule of conduct for any future one. America, a new state, was thrust hastily, with all the attributes of sovereignty, into the midst of the old nations of Europe. Not having grown up with them, trying her wings, feeling her strength as she advanced to mature age along with those powers, her relative position was not ascertained, and acts of the parties engaged in the European wars, were patiently endured, not from want of sagacity and spirit, both to perceive and resist the injustice and wrong, but from a well founded doubt and distrust of the real strength of the people. The late war with England, as it happened with the most powerful of the belligerents and with the only nation, that could do us much mischief, has entirely removed all apprehension and uneasiness on that score. The effect that war has had on the national character, will extend itself to the government; and if the country should hereafter be, again, unfortunately exposed to similar indignities and outrages, it is not likely that they will be met with the same resigned spirit and an equal portion of for bearance. We mention this subject entirely in connexion with the business of the general diplomacy of the nation, and, as we have assigned to the peace of Ghent the termination of the first period in our diplomatic history, we may, perhaps, without indulging too great partiality for a formal, arbitrary arrangement, place at that epoch the commencement of a new system, both commercial and political.